A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
THE WINNER: Abbey Leonardi
School: Kennebunk (Maine)
Athletic achievement: Leonardi raced to a fourth consecutive Class A individual state championship this past season with a time of 18:27.19. The state’s three-time returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, she placed second at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships in 18:05.7 in addition to finishing fourth at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in 17:35.3. Also the four-time Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year as named by the Maine Sunday Telegram, Leonardi captured first place at the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions and Western Maine Class A Regional Cross Country Championship Meet this past fall. With her three Gatorade State Track & Field Athlete of the Year trophies, she becomes the first athlete from any state to win Gatorade honors seven times in the award program’s 27-year history.
Academic excellence: Leonardi has maintained an A average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a member of her school’s Captain’s Club to promote healthy lifestyle choices among her peers and area youth student-athletes, she has volunteered as part of fundraising efforts on behalf of displaced civilians in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.
“Abbey is the most focused athlete I have seen through my many years in this profession,” said Kennebunk head coach Mike Dinehart. “Her practice regimen is a model for any athlete who wants to succeed. Not only does she challenge herself to garner the requisite hours to perform at such a high level, she is also able to apply that same work ethic to academics.”
THE FUTURE: Leonardi has verbally committed to an athletic scholarship at the University of Oregon beginning this fall.